Melanoma poses the most serious threat over all forms of cancer.
The American Cancer Society has predicted that there will be around 73,870 new melanoma diagnoses in 2015 for the United States alone. It is further estimated that 9,940 of individuals will die from it.
Statistics show that this represents a 200% increase in incidents since 1973. The World Health Organization places annual new cases of melanoma at 132,000 globally.
Time is Of Essence
Melanomas originating from melanocytes are said to be more aggressive than any other form of cancer. Early diagnosis is critical as the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance published a study in 2009 stating that less than 10% of metastatic melanoma cases have a survival rate beyond ten years.
The most predominate cause of deaths from melanoma is due to lymph node and wide spread metastasis. That’s why early detection is so important.
Mind The ABCDEs
The most common approach of educating the public on identifying characteristics of melanoma is a rule referred to as ABCDE.
Most individuals have a certain number of moles on their body.
Normal moles are not a cause for concern; however, they should be identified as just normal moles to be safe. This means to keep an eye on them and note any changes. Sudden or drastic changes in the appearance of moles should be immediately brought to the attention a medical professional.
The following ABCDE guidelines can assist in identifying signs of potential melanoma.
- A represents asymmetry.
- B represents the border or edge. A jagged, blurred, or irregular edge is significant reason to bring it to the attention of a physician.
- C represents color which should be nearly seamless. A deviation in hue or, more importantly, actual color can be significant. For example, it may be reddish brown with black spots. Do not dismiss odd colors such as blue or pink either.
- D represents the diameter of the mole/birthmark. If it is larger than 6 mm, which is roughly ¼ inch (size of a pencil eraser), medical counsel should be sought.
- E represents evolving or deviating from the original mole/birthmark in color, size, or shape.
There are a number of other symptoms that should be considered as well. Any of these should be discussed with a medical professional to rule out cancer.
- Any sore that continues to worsen or simply refuses to heal is an indication of the possibility of melanoma.
- The sudden appearances of one or more new spots in the vicinity of the original mole/birthmark can be a sign. There might also, but not always, be a trail from one to the other.
- Rapid growth, redness, or additional inflammation of the mole/birthmark should be noted.
- Another sign to consider is tenderness, pain, or itching.
- A mole/birthmark which bleeds, oozes, or appears to be scaly should be addressed by a medical practitioner.
Reduce Risks of Melanoma
If limited or avoidance of the sun is not possible, always apply a strong, natural sunscreen. Certain types of commercial sunscreen contain harsh or toxic chemicals.
- Cyanidins are present in many species of berries and these pigments offer powerful protection from damaging sun rays and free radicals.
- Sesame oil is effective against 30% of ultraviolet rays.
- Coconut and olive oils offer protection from about 20% of UV rays.
- High concentrations of antioxidants are found in numerous fruits and vegetables. Antioxidants are effective in combating as well as preventing cell damage from harmful sun rays.